Getting hungry? If not, you will be soon! And while I’m not a fan of saying you “need to earn your food” in my normal life, I can definitely say you will earn your big meals here! Lisbon is best explored on foot, but the real kicker is that it’s very hilly, and the roads do not all meet up in neat little rows! You’ll want to fuel yourself throughout the day, and you’ll have fun doing so. (Go ahead, get that pastry!)
Fabrica Pastel Feijao
Oh, you’re surprised the first thing I ate in a new place was a sweet? Why?
This bakery came highly recommended, specifically for these “Pastel de Feijao,” or “bean cakes.” No, I’m not talking pinto beans here. You’d be surprised at just how delicious they are. They tasted like little chess pies! If I’d known how good it was going to be, I might have gotten two. Just be warned: Cash only!
Keep reading: Your Ultimate Guide to the Lisboa Card
Right next to Sao Jorge Castle and next door to our hotel, this was the perfect place to grab supper on our first day in Lisbon. We split the Mercearia Castelo Pizza (obviously), which came topped with 4 cheeses, smoked ham, olives, and arugula, with a hefty handful of oregano as well. For such a great location, it’s tucked away enough that you can be away from the hustle and bustle without needing to hike out of your way (you just came up Lisbon’s tallest hill to get here, after all).
Keep reading: The Ultimate Harsh Truths About Travel
Pasteis de Belem
This is the custard tart that Portugal is known for! And legend has it, it all started here, in Belem. All the convents and monasteries in Portugal were shut down in 1834 (a result of the Liberal Revolution of 1820). Everyone who once worked in a convent or monastery had to find a new way to make ends meet, and in 1837, someone from the Jeronimos Monastery across the street started selling these little custard tarts. The rest is history, and this little shop is the place to get yours!
Pro tip: You can get some for take-away, sit down for table service, and pick up pre-orders. Make sure you know which line you’re standing in… There will most likely be quite a line!
Also helpful: What to Know Before You Visit Portugal
Okay, fair warning, we got painfully slow service here, but in all honesty, this was one of the best, most authentic meals we had. Steve ordered the grilled codfish, which came with “punched” potatoes, Portuguese cabbage, and a garlic-inflused olive oil. I ordered the gazpacho (very refreshing!) and prego sandwich, which is a traditional Portuguese beef tenderloin sandwich with a white wine mustard. The roll it came on was a Portuguese potato bread from Madiera.
I also enjoyed their mint lemonade, as well as a lemon tart! The tart was not at all like I was expecting. It was creamy, almost marshmallow-y, with a thick, delicious cookie crumble crust. It was one of the best things I ate!
More here: What to Know Before You Visit Lisbon
Casa Portuguesa Pastel de Bacalhau
If you need something fast to grab-and-go while you’re making the rounds of all the sites in Lisbon, this hearty “snack” is dense enough to be a meal! It’s a combination of two things Portugal is famous for: codfish and cheese. Once it’s breaded and baked, it’s a hefty little potato-shaped package, and you’ll be glad for the extra stamina because of it. This “lite lunch” kept me going for several more hours!
Pack the comfy shoes for this hilly adventure: What to Pack for a Week in Spain and Portugal
Okay, this was, unfortunately, the least impresive place we ate. We thought we were doing well to get off the beaten track and find a restaurant away from the most touristy section, but we were wrong! The food was fine, but a little confusing. This was a tapas place (“tapas” was literally in the name!), so we thought everything would be small, and we should get a sampling. Not so! Somehow I ended up with two orders of fries, plus a full entree, and Steve’s pasta Bolognese was a full-size portion, too! The worst part was that none of it was that tasty, and we were very pressured into leaving a tip with the waiter hanging over our shoulder while we paid. Skip this place. Learn from our mistakes!
Keep reading: The Best Things to Do in Lisbon on a Monday
Breakfast at Solar do Castelo
Why aren’t there any breakfast restaurants in this post? Well, because breakfast came included in our hotel rate! We had a fabulous buffet breakfast each morning, which I can highly recommend. It included everything from eggs to bacon, yogurt to fruit, fish to cheese, and bread to pastries. Plus fresh-squeezed orange juice, coffee, tea, etc.
Whether you stay here or not, I recommend booking an accommodation with breakfast included if possible. It made for an easy way to start the day, since many businesses don’t open until 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning. The few places we saw that were open before that were mostly bakeries, with very little in the way of a hearty meal. Nothing against a pasteis de nata and coffee for breakfast, but personally, that just wouldn’t last me more than an hour on its own!
Read next: Everything You Need to Know about Staying at Solar Do Castelo, Lisbon
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